Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream

kristi yamaguchi's Always Dream logo

Aarika has spent her career in service to youth focused non-profit organizations. She is passionate about early literacy and closing the opportunity gap for students. Prior to joining Always Dream, she served as a Senior Executive Director at Reading Partners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born and raised in Hawaii, Aarika lives in Oakland with her husband and two young sons.

Favorite children’s book: My favorite book as a child was “Haircuts for the Woolsey’s” but I love reading “Edward the Emu” with my kids.

Lori is the Programs Director of the Always Dream Foundation. She spent several years on the Board of Directors before taking on the Executive Director role in July 2011. Prior to her directorship at the Always Dream Foundation, Lori spent 16 years at Franklin Templeton Investments, most recently as the Director of Global Financial Operations. Lori’s two young daughters serve as her inspiration for ensuring other children are provided with opportunities to succeed in life.

Favorite children’s book: Roald Dahl’s “James and The Giant Peach”

An avid reader and nonprofit fundraising professional, Michelle has focused her career on advancing educational equity and social justice. With more than a decade of nonprofit management experience and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, she hopes to connect people with the mission of Always Dream and to promote early literacy skills for all.

Favorite Children’s Book: The Winnie the Pooh series

Dean Osaki’s professional insights and perspective comes from a diverse background in community relations, sports and corporate philanthropy, cause-related marketing, branding, fundraising and management of non-profits.

Currently serving as a consultant, his past experiences include, Campaign Director of United Way in Silicon Valley, Co-Founder and Executive Director for Kristi’s Always Dream Foundation, Director of Marketing for the Examiner and Target, Manager Community Relations, Western & Southwest Regions.

Favorite Children’s Book: Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”

Troy was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in 2019. From an early age, Troy’s family pushed him to read and be proactive about his education. However, growing up in such a small, limited town, it took stepping out of that comfort zone to find his passion for educational equity. Troy’s philosophy comes from a quote by Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

After graduating, Troy also found his passion for coaching basketball and has volunteered to coach for a few different schools around the East Bay. Troy wants to use his experience and life story to help bridge the opportunity gap for students with similar backgrounds.

Favorite childhood book: There was an Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly – Lucille Colandro

With a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s degree in nutrition, and nearly a decade of experience, Chelsea’s career path has spanned across industries. As a digital communications professional, she has worked for hospitality, nutrition and fitness, and ag-tech companies. Most recently, she served as the senior communications specialist for the Hawaiʻi State Senate. As a girl growing up in a rural midwestern town, reading opened up her eyes to a bigger, more diverse world. She deeply believes that every child deserves the resources and support to experience the same.

Favorite children’s book: The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

Josie grew up in South LA, California and graduated from Humboldt State University in 2018. Since discovering her passion for educational equity, Josie has supported students from kindergarten to university level in various parts of California and Nevada. Josie is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Education, Equity, and Social Justice at San Francisco State University.

Favorite children’s book: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by: Laura Joffe Numeroff

Annika brings extensive experience in program management and collaborative partnerships from her tenure at Niroga Institute. Her strong background in working with underserved families and Title I schools highlights her dedication to educational equity and closing the opportunity gap through accessibility. This commitment makes Annika a seamless fit with Always Dream’s mission. In her role as Program Manager, she will be supporting our team to reach more families.

Favorite Children’s Book: Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel

Terrie Togafau-Tarpley has spent many years working and tutoring students from the elementary to high schools. She has worked as a part time teacher with Hawaii Department of Education and, in addition to her responsibilities at Always Dream, is currently a Tutoring and Activities Coordinator with Hawaii Literacy Family Libraries. She enjoys working with students of all ages and their families in pursuing a love of reading. Terrie loves to read all kinds of books including poetry, fiction, science/climate fiction, biographies, young adult literature, and children’s literature.

Favorite children’s book: The Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan

Jennifer Spencer has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a M.Ed. in Child Development from Chaminade University Honolulu. She spent several years as a teacher in a Transitional Kindergarten class at a private preschool and is currently a substitute teacher for elementary grades K through 5th grade. She also worked for various family advocacy social services agencies such as the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency Head Start and Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois. Jennifer believes that early reading skills and providing positive learning experiences during early childhood are critical in fostering academic, social, and emotional development.

Favorite children’s book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson